I think that because of our decadent and materialistic culture all
Americans—Latter-Day Saints included—have lost touch with the
frontier, pioneer ethic of hard work and cooperation upon which our society was
built. We see that reflected in the lackadaisical attitude many people take
towards Church callings. The world is full of distractions and if our priorities
are not straight we can end up letting things—and people—fall
through the cracks that should not. The system can only run well if everyone is
an equal partner and does all that they can to improve their own lives and the
lives of others around them, without being compelled to do so by any higher
I'm concerned about all the comparing going on here. The purpose of the
church is not to set up a competition, or to put people on a pedestal who give a
lot of service. Our task is NOT to evaluate who is doing a lot and who is doing
a little, or to come up with questionable "percentages" or
"statistics." To do so perpetuates pride and/or resentment. The Lord
asks us to have a willing heart and to serve our fellow man. We each have
something to offer, but we need to remember that our abilities, energy, and also
circumstances are vastly different.
The 20% say they want help. But they don't. They WANT to do it all
themselves. They LIKE doing it all themselves. They LOVE the sense of purpose
martyrdom brings to the closed circuits and stuffed sinuses of little lives.
They will fight to the death to preserve their right to SUFFER.You
cannot help them. Some people cannot be helped.But we
can learn to live the Shema.
I got my first church calling when I was 13 --- Priesthood organist. I was
called to be ward organist at age 17 and held that until my mission. When I
returned I was again called as ward organist and hold that calling to this day
-- and I have no problem with that. At the same time; since my mission, I have
held on the average 3 callings at a time - both ward and stake level, and again,
I love it all.But I do notice those who are too busy to serve, or
turn down callings because it wasn't the one they wanted. I think they are
missing out and who knows maybe some reasons are legitimate. That is not for me
to judge. All I can do is to serve as I have been called and appreciate the
journey. Sure, life is busy - otherwise it would be boring. Again, we just do
the best we can and wait on the Lord for our true rewards.
I find it unfortunate that we have created a church culture where we feel like
there is so much to do that we end up sniping at each other. If some of the
callings, programs, or activities went away, would that be so bad? How about we
let each other live our lives as we see fit.If you want three
callings while attending every single church function, then knock yourself out.
If you find one calling and helping where you can more appropriate while
focusing on needs and challenges at home, then you need to let your fellow ward
members know and they will just have to accept it. We should focus more on
charity for each other.
It is interesting to see the differences in many different wards and stakes in
many parts of the world when it comes to callings and serving in the
church.Having served a mission some 25 years ago and witnessing the growth of
the church all these years,I get excited to see when the 80/20 rule increases to
50/50 or even 100! In all cases it is always a group effort to encourage and
inspire others to serve the Lord and feel close to Him.
Great article. If everyone would pitch in with their heart and soul, each of us
would become a drop of water forming a mighty river that could never be stopped
or diverted no matter how determined the adversary. God help us all to lend a
helping hand to move his Kingdom forward.
The idea of the 80/20 rule is that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people
and the remaining 80% of the people split 20% of the work.80% of the
people split 20% of the total wealth in a society while 20% of the people are
sharing 80% of the total wealth
While all of us fluctuate between strong and weak times, one thing that helps
the troughs from becoming to deep and permanent is service. Even if you
don't feel you can be Relief Society president, perhaps you can be a
faithful visiting teacher and/or occassionaly help drive the youth to an
activity or take a casserole to someone who's sick or in need. And all of
us can remember to verbally thank those who are serving and keep them in our
prayers. That, too, is a great service. A smile and a 'thanks' or
'great job' goes a long way to making someone else's day.
I like it when people with a testimony of the Gospel are called to key positions
and when people with a sound understanding of the Gospel and the scriptures are
called to teach the Gospel Doctrine class.
Sometimes I am doing the work and sometimes not as much as I know I should. I
am grateful to all neighbors of any church that see that when I am down lend a
hand. Sometimes I am able to return the favor. My last name is very near the
end of the alphabet so I made it my goal that if I was ever called to help out
in any way, (the person must be really desperate) so I try to say yes when
possible. Not over extending myself, but trying to give back where I know so
many have given to me... I am also grateful to people who volunteer without
having to be asked. Some think they should be asked. Not my perspective. So
thank you to all those who pick up a snow shovel without being asked, or making
cookies, not because they have an assigned friend, but because they care.
"And if you choose not to make it, we may sometimes notice that and not
think much of your excuses. We also are dealing with multiple surgeries,
children with serious health problems, tight budgets, cars that need major
repairs and bouts of depression. We just don't use those as excuses not to
serve."On the other hand, I have sat through far too many
unprepared, listless, poorly planned and just downright poor quality Church
talks, meetings, lessons, and activities, most often because people who were
under pressures did not have or give time and effort to do the job well.Perhaps it is better for some people to use some discretion and not
accept callings when they know they cannot give The Lord their best efforts. Is
failing to give your best really a "worthy" offering? Is being stoically
obedient in accepting all callings all the time really superior? Maybe we would
all do well to humbly consider that there may be others out there who could do
the job much better than we, in our overwhelmed, pressured, stressed state are
Why do people think that the 20% who go all out in service have it all together
and are not making huge sacrifices in time, energy, and money to do it?
I'm not even going to list the problems we are dealing with at home and in
our family but just say that we are under just as much pressure emotionally and
physically as those who use those pressures to not serve. This I do
know. We are blessed by our service and grateful for it. But it is a sacrifice.
And if you choose not to make it, we may sometimes notice that and not think
much of your excuses. We also are dealing with multiple surgeries, children with
serious health problems, tight budgets, cars that need major repairs and bouts
of depression. We just don't use those as excuses not to serve.
I would be interested in knowing how you calculated the 80/20 rule. Is it an
actually calculated statistic? Or is it a fabricated number for rhetorical
@Brant T....I agree with you about STP...same ten people. Our ward and stake
are so infultrated with nepotism that it's very disheartening for those of
us who are "not related." My husband and I have been in 2 leadership
positions at the same time and EXTREMELY pigeonhold. I taught R.S. for 8 years,
him, Priesthood for 10, I've played the piano in R.S. for 8 years, and now
I'm in Sunday school "which is my favorite calling) for going on 3.
I'm still the RS pianist and am being strongly considered for Primary
pianist instead, because I need a change of scenery. I wish more people would
be willing to serve. So many in our ward will only serve in certain callings,
with certain people and will do nothing publicly like pray or give talks. I do appreciate the fresh perspective on this SS topic though. I might
even use it for my lesson on Sunday.
I grew up with parents who taught me that you should never turn down a calling.
If you have a legitimate concern about your ability to serve (like health
problems) then you should let the bishopric know, and ask them to consider that.
I have to admit that it was quite disillusioning for me when I learned that
the Bishopric has a hard time finding people to serve. I think accepting hard
callings is a way for us to demonstrate our faith in God. Do we, or do we not
believe He will help us? Do we, or do we not believe in sustaining our
bishopric; because accepting callings is part of sustaining them. I have been
thinking a lot recently about the concept of "Priestcraft". It would be
such a conflict of interest for those serving in the church if they were doing
it for money. When we volunteer our time, our hearts are set on serving The
Lord, and we aren't worried about what we will get out of it. So in our
religion we believe in a lay ministry; one where people serve willingly without
pay. Or do we? .....
Actually the experience has been, woefully, that in the the church 10% do 90% of
the work... or more that in a regular ward ten families, one of them, pretty
much be involved in anything you could name or think of... the people always
called on for anything. Have seen some of these families move from the wards
we've been in and seen another family move in that takes their place...
you, someone new that you barely know and all of the sudden their fingers are in
every pie... saying this as good thing... but also that it would nice to be
asked to serve as well.The other thing is pigeon-holing... once a
clerk always a clerk... YM/YW leader in former ward... same calling this
ward... scouting for life...
I see this happen all the time. I have volunteered at ward functions because
that is what I and everyone else should try to do. The responsibility for this
80/20 falls directly on the Leadership of the Stake and Wards. I notice only
people living in the influential neighborhoods or family members get called to
positions and they rotate from one to the next. There are subcultures and clicks
in the church and it is sad. I substituted for almost a year in Primary and
everyone assumed including myself I would get the calling. Yet I didn't,
the parents and Primary President didn't understand why, neither did my
class. There are a lot of people who would love to get a calling, lets try to
get fresh blood in the church positions and actually call people who don't
live in the influential neighborhoods and are converts or are the only member of
their family in the church. This would help with retention of new converts too.
I think it is more like 60% do the work and 40% do some of it. That has been my
experience throughout my 70 plus years.
I had no idea about the 80/20 rule. I gather it is that 20% do the work of the
Kingdom? There are just some people who at any given time have their life
together enough that they can serve. I've often been the person who had
nothing left to give. I would like to be more useful, I just really am tangled
up in home/private responsibilities. I wonder if there is a lot of people like
me; just folks stumbling along, trying to keep up and do a decent job here and
there? I like to re-read Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson when I feel I will
never be good enough. And I like to re-read Following Christ, by same author
when I find myself getting over critical of fellow Christians. Both books help
me calm down!!!
I can't tell you how man times I have had this conversation with my wife.
We have been in Presidencies at the same time for most of our 25 years of
marriage - usually with a couple of other callings tacked on for good
measure.In our current Ward, the same people are usually rotated
from one Presidency to another. You never heard of burn out? I am so jealous
of my son, who just got called to teach the 4-year-olds.But I
won't say how I would do things if I were Bishop - heaven forbid that
should happen ever!
The "80%" is, in part, made up of those the 20% are rescuing; those
looking to find their way back. Many of those who are "active" by virtue
of attending meetings are nonetheless struggling in very real ways to just hold
on to any shred of hope that attending church can offer. I don't find
business terms very helpful to the real work of shepherding, rescuing, and
uniting a people in love. I have lived in communities where 90% are caring for
each other and seeking out the lost sheep. I have also lived in areas where the
gracious shepherds are few and the straying sheep are abundant. Adding one
additional shepherd to that unit is a remarkable blessing. If we include the
call to spread the gospel to all the world, and therefore consider all of
God's children in the equation, the 80/20 rule hardly reflects the
challenge that lies before us. An 80/20 evaluation in the Lord's Kingdom
tends to create "Ites" who express their burden and elevate their own
importance. I have to remind myself that since God stands behind his shepherds,
"they that are with us" will always be an overwhelming majority."
"... making each service provider truly vital regardless of their age or
skill set."This phrase contains a glaring pronoun-antecedent
disagreement.English grammar states that pronouns and their
antecedents must agree in number and, when the gender is common (when it can be
either masculine or feminine), the masculine gender is used."Each service provider" is singular; "their" is plural.The phrase should read either "... making each service provider
truly vital regardless of HIS age or skill set." or "... making ALL
service PROVIDERS truly vital regardless of their AGES or skill SETS."
It is called the 80/20 rule because give or take a few percent it is what ends
up happening. I am no longer a Mormon but the same rule applies in my church as
well. Good luck on changing those statistics. If we can have at effect on them
more people will come to God.
Thanks for your column. But now I feel even more guilty like there's never
enough in the church that I shouldn't be doing. I would caution everyone
that just because some people attend every church function and are heavily
involved doesn't necessarily mean they have it all together at home, in
their personal life or conduct, or in what really counts. There is far too much
judging going on in our ward subcultures based on appearances, and not enough
loving. What's essential is often invisible to the eye and for other
people to judge. Somedays, it's all we can do to just hold it all
together, let alone take the homeless blankets and dinner.
This was an excellent article. Thanks for publishing it.I am
reminded that the Lord seeks the one lost sheep and challenges us to do the
same. It is each one that matters and the whole sum adds up to 100%. We learn
by serving and by being served. No one has it all, but the sooner we learn what
is needful for us, the better off we are.
I think 80/20 is generous in our ward. Probably 80/15 at most. It is so bad in
Primary that there is a permanent list of responsible people that are willing to
substitute when teachers just don't show up on Sunday morning. Every week
there are a couple that just don't show up. I had been the executive
secretary in the ward for two bishops and finally got a calling as the cub
master that I loved. Unfortunately, my replacement did a horrible, horrible job
and then moved. Less than 1 year after being in a calling I loved I was put
back in the old calling and was faced with a mess. The bishop said he needed
someone who he knew would do the job right. Well out of the whole ward I guess
I was all he could find? I tell people I'm going to die in this calling
because they are afraid to let someone else try it again. Service is supposed
to be uplifting and rewarding but when it comes to ward callings it becomes a
chore when only a few are doing most of the heavy lifting.
Service in the church, a key to gaining a testimony. Many Years ago I was a
Sunday School teacher of a class mostly boys who were determined to get rid of
the teacher, which I was advised of when I was called. My challenge was to help
these young pre teen boys. So on Christmas we had a party at my house, only for
the party activity we made home made cookies, and bought some hankies, cost each
child a quarter, and took them to the local nursing home where we sang to the
members. One Brother who was totally paralized from the waist down, asked them
if they new "Have I Done Any good in the World Today". Of course these
brazen boys new that song, and as they sang the tears rolled down that good mans
cheeks as well as mine. We then went back to my home and had refreshments. The
next Sunday I was advised that tha was the best Christmas Party they had ever
had.. The Blessings of Service no matter what your calling. What wonderful
Your 80/20 article is right on! I've come to adopt a mantra in Church
service, "The purpose of a ward dinner is NOT to feed the ward".
Meaning, activities, programs and the like are the tools we use to "invite
all to Come Unto Christ and be Perfected in Him". If we get lost in the
task (Scout camp, for example) we can loose the purpose (creating relationships
between leaders and youth, teaching youth leadership skills, showing by example
spirituality and prayer throughout the day to scouts who lack an example at
home, etc.). When we allow the 20% do do all the work we deprive them and us,
the blessings that come from discipleship; we deny them an opportunity for the
Spitit to have influence in their lives. Our role as leaders is to create an
environment where the Lord can have influence. As a former non-engaged
80%'re, I'm grateful to an Elders Quorum President who believed in me
and challenged me to something better.